In late January 2013 our group successfully ran two public consultation events intended to reveal our plans to local people. The surprisingly well kept secret of the location, namely the field directly west of Bridport Hospital raised no significant objections from the 90 or more people who left their names and postcodes.
Our preparations included delivery of 500 leaflets to households off Hospital Lane and North Allington, the closest housing to the site. Press releases led to good coverage in the Bridport News, Marshwood Vale Magazine etc. Snowy weather tried to intervene but after an initial wobble we decided to go ahead and manage without our architect or professional advisors who were both snowbound elsewhere. Fortunately the architect’s diagrams and drawings of the site plans and the artist’s impression of the site from Allington Hill were sent electronically and run off by a printer in the town. They impressed our members as much as the wider populace! See a drawing of the proposed development here
We began the consultation on Friday the 18th January with 2 hour sessions in the afternoon and evening at the Cherry Tree Community Centre close to the Hospital. There was a modest turnout of visitors in the afternoon, swelling to a steady trickle in the evening. Seventeen in all and they both asked questions and volunteered local knowledge including that there were a couple of horses buried in the field! We had 22 post-it note responses from the consultees, notably that people like the prospect of a meeting space for locals and the parish council. There were some concerns about losing part of the green lane (our likely access route), and about sewage capacity. There was also a request for workshop space/tool shed from the Allington Hillbillies who voluntarily tend nearby Allington Hill.
On Saturday two gazebos were raised in Bucky Doo Square and we were ready by 10.00 a.m. to impress all comers with our plans. It was cold but dry and calm so our papers and maps survived well and there was constant dialogue with many visitors. 72 peoples’ names were recorded but plenty more looked and chatted without actually signing the sheets. We had 29 post-it note responses and 2 Response forms including 14 very positive comments. People were pleased about our intention to have no cars around the houses, and about the idea of a play area which local children could enjoy. The general opinion was that the plans were attractive and would not be an eyesore on a Greenfield site. Some people were willing to provide attributable statements of support that could be quoted by journalists.
Almost every BC Ltd member and ex-members were on hand at various points. A few heroic stalwarts were there all day until 3.00 p.m. despite the chill. The collected names and postcodes and the collated record of comments will be an important supporting resource for our planning application.
By Julian Jones